FREE FLIGHT EXOTIC BIRD SANCTUARY

Travel

Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary located in Del Mar, California is a fun place to go to interact with exotic birds. The purpose of this non-profit is to provide a sanctuary for birds and allow them to interact with the public. Some of these birds have out-lived their owners while others have been removed from a less than desirable home environment. Some birds are not adoptable, while others can be adopted to a good home.

The birds are in an outdoor area with a koi pond. Some are on perches, some are in cages. Most can be held and fed. Some of the birds are not as friendly and are not allowed to be held. I was told that most all of the birds can talk to some extent. One says full sentences, one mimics two different rings of a telephone, and my favorite said “hello, pretty bird” and gave a hearty laugh. A couple of the birds were quite old. One was 71 years old.

The volunteers at the sanctuary were very knowledgeable about the birds and I learned some interesting facts about the birds. Not only were the volunteers knowledgeable, some of the other visitors were as well. One woman we talked with goes to Free Flight twice a week and was very familiar with the birds and what they could say.

Looking to get some hands-on experience with birds? Check-out Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary. https://www.freeflightbirds.org

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden – Balboa Park

Travel

While visiting Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, do not forget to cross the foot bridge to The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The foot bridge allows one to cross over Park Blvd and is located between the Natural History Museum and the nearby fountain. The rose garden is in bloom from March through December. April and May will find the garden in peak season. There are more than 130 varieties to entice rose lovers. This is a great garden to stroll and enjoy the many varieties of roses. Benches and a covered structure for shade also make this garden enjoyable for a leisurely outing. Be sure to bring a camera as the flowers make for beautiful pictures and a splendid backdrop to family portraits as well. The garden has won many awards over the years and is a lovely place to visit while at Balboa Park.

Covered structure

Utility Boxes as Art

life

We’ve all driven around and seen the green utility boxes by the side of the road. Some cities have programs for artists to paint the boxes. They do this to beautify the city but also to help prevent graffiti. Some of these boxes look better than others. But I was awestruck at the latest form of art I spotted on the utility boxes. Photography!

Lee Sie Photography creates photographic designs that are used as wraps for utility boxes. The photos used in the wraps are of nature, or outdoor scenes that would blend in with the surroundings. They can be found throughout San Diego in such places as Solana Beach. I like the look of them compared to that of some of the painted boxes because they have a clean, professional look. The first one I saw, I was like, “wow” that looks like a photograph, which is exactly what it was. Take a look…

Crested Ducks

life

My children and I always enjoyed seeing the same two ducks at the lake. We could spot them a mile away due to the pouf of feathers on top of their heads. Were they just having a bad feather day every day? No, they were born like that. They are what is known as crested ducks.

Crested Duck

In crested ducks, the crested gene is a genetic defect. According to backyardchickens.com, the crest (or what I call the pouf) is actually fatty tissue covering a gap in the skull. Oh my! Breeding crested ducks is considered cruel by many as the chance is greater that the chicks will die in the shell due to this genetic defect. If bred, the chicks have a better chance at survival if one parent does not have the defect.

I never knew this before. Sometimes it is worth the while to look up things one is curious about. It could lead to a new appreciation or understanding of a subject. Defect and all, these crested ducks will always have a place in my heart.

Baby Bluebirds Have Arrived

gardening

It is mid July and we have spotted our first glimpse of our newest baby bluebird. The parents have been nesting for a while so we have been waiting for this day. Now that the day has come we could not be more thrilled!

Baby Bluebird

We have had baby Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) now for the past few years. Ever since my husband made and gifted me a bluebird house, the birds have come to make their nest and raise their babies. Both the male and female bird help to prepare the nest and take care of the young.

Daddy Bluebird
Mommy Bluebird in Action

It is such a treat to watch the activities of this newly formed family. The parents are very attentive to their babies and can be seen flying to and from the nest throughout the day with food for their young. Welcome Bluebird family!

Visiting Joshua Tree

Travel

Somehow, when picturing Joshua Tree National Park, I always thought of one lone Joshua tree. After all, if there were a lot of trees the tree would be plural, right? Oh how wrong I was. Joshua Tree National Park has more than one tree and is a vast desert.

One thing that overtook me about Joshua Tree (roughly 45 miles from Palm Springs, California) was how large it was. It seemed the desert could go on forever. It is actually made up of two deserts coming together to form the park. Below 3000 feet makes up the Colorado Desert or Eastern part of the park. The higher elevation makes up the Mojave Desert where the Joshua trees can be seen.

Skull Rock

When planning a trip to Joshua Tree, keep in mind the temperatures. We took our trip in December, which was a perfect time to go for pleasant hiking. Temperatures are in the 60’s Fahrenheit in December, dipping down cooler at night to somewhere in the 30’s. Spring is the most popular time of year at Joshua Tree due to the desert flowers in bloom. Summer would be the least desirable time to visit as it is a desert and the temperatures can get to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit warm to be hiking.

Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and is a beautiful place to visit. At night the stars are plainly visible without any light pollution. If you want to see the stars at night pack a jacket, as it does get cold at night. There is nowhere to purchase food in the park, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. Be sure to pack a camera to capture this remarkable park. Happy Traveling!

The Beautiful Rotary Botanical Gardens

Travel

The Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited. Full of interesting plants, colorful flowers, and fun sculptures, it is well worth the trip. Let me give you a tour…

kaleidoscope to view flowers – so cool!

The Rotary Botanical Gardens is developed into 26 garden spaces on over 20 acres of land. Some of my favorite garden spaces are the French Formal Rose Garden, the Sunken Garden, the Shade Garden, and the Japanese Garden. I also was delighted by the interactive kaleidoscope sculpture that allows you to look at flower petals through a kaleidoscope.

A view of the Japanese Garden

I went in the summer, however, the Gardens would be wonderful to see in other seasons as well. The plants are changed out for different seasons so there is always something new to see. Along with different seasons come different hours of operation. Be sure to check the hours and days they are open before making your trip.

The Gardens are a photographer’s dream. Tons of beautiful flowers, interesting backdrops, sculptures, and insects make it well worth the trip. Charge your batteries before going and be sure to allow time to take in the gardens. There are plenty of benches throughout the garden to sit and enjoy nature or to take a break.

The admission to The Rotary Botanical Gardens is reasonable and they have events and classes throughout the year , so be sure to check-out their calendar. One can also have meetings or weddings held at the Gardens. How nice that would be! On the way out, do not forget to stop in the gift shop. A nice selection of garden merchandise is available for purchase.

So, if you like gardens and find yourself in Wisconsin, be sure to stop by Janesville and enjoy an afternoon at the Rotary Botanical Gardens. You can bring a lunch and have an enjoyable meal on their terrace. Remember to stop and smell the roses.